Death Dealer 6 was part of a Heritage Auctions (22.5% buyer’s premium) May 16-18 sale of close on 1700 lots that raised a premium-inclusive, and house-record, $10.39m (£7.71m).
Twelve of Frazetta’s original fantasy paintings have previously made six-figure sums in Heritage sales. Until this month, At the Earth’s Core, a cover illustration for a 1970s edition of the first of the subterranean world, ‘Pellucidar’ books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, was the record holder – having sold in 2016 for $900,000.
Death Dealer 6, the new record holder, a signed and dated oil on board of 1990, is one of a group of paintings featuring the axe-wielding barbarian of the title.
This artwork was first seen in 1996 as the cover for one of the original series of Death Dealer comic books.
As a teenager Frazetta (1928-2010) started out producing ‘funny animal’ comic books, but, via Buck Rogers and Lil’ Abner strips, eventually moved on to find fame in the wider illustration world. His paintings were reproduced on paperbacks and even rock album covers.
Covers featuring Conan the Barbarian and other spectacular works produced for Warren Publishing’s Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella all added to his success.
The top comic lot in this sale was, at $480,000 (£356,345), a CGC 4.0 rated copy of Action Comics No.1 of June, 1938. This was the comic which included the first appearance of Superman. In 2014 a copy graded at CGC 9.0 was sold for a record $3.21m (then £1.93m) on eBay.
Billed by Heritage as a stunning example of “one of the most desirable Silver Age DCs we’ve ever offered” and graded a near mint+ 9.6 example in its industry-standard CGC casing, the 1960 first issue of US comic publisher DC’s Justice League of America was one of a number of US comics that brought six-figure bids in the recent auction.
It sold for $180,000 (£133,630).